20 Feb 2018

Sport: Fiji league team still waiting on visas for Commonwealth Champs

1:04 pm on 20 February 2018

Fiji's participation in the Rugby League Commonwealth Championship remains up in the air with a number of players still awaiting visas to travel to Australia.

The nine-a-side competition kicks off on Friday at Dolphin Stadium in Moreton Bay, North-East of Brisbane.

The Fiji men are pooled with Australia, Scotland and Wales, while the women have been drawn alongside Australia and Samoa.

Fiji celebrate the final whistle after beating New Zealand.

The Fiji nines team is being used as a development tool for the senior Bati side. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Men's Under 23 coach Joe Rabele Dakuitoga said the players' visas have been lodged but they're still waiting for confirmation.

"We are supposed to fly out on Wednesday [but] at the moment they're still waiting for funds towards our visa - especially visas for the players that are going to participate," he said.

This is not the first time the Fiji NRL have encountered travel issues.

Earlier this month Fiji Bati captain Kevin Naiqama told AAP the squad's player manager was sacked during last year's World Cup campaign, while the passports of Ashton Sims, Korbin Sims and coach Mick Potter were lost - all in the first week of camp.

Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama

Kevin Naiqama. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bati forward Viliame Kikau was also close to missing their semi-final defeat to Australia after being stuck in New Zealand due to an expired visa.

Mr Dakuitoga, who is also an assistant coach with Bati national team said the team for the Commonwealth Championship was selected before Christmas and he's not sure why there has been such a delay in receiving the necessary paperwork.

"After the World Cup there was no money left for our preparation, for everything to be done for this team because we did the trials in December last year and we asked for assistance, if I can prepare a team from the off-season in December and January" he said.

"But after the World Cup there was no funds left for Fiji NRL so they've been struggling for finance and the new contract we've just signed now with Vodafone now and the funds started coming this month."

"If worst comes to worst the boys will be leaving on Wednesday and the womens team will be travelling on Thursday, if worst comes to worst.

"If not both teams will depart on Wednesday," he said while admitting he was not sure how long the process could take.

"If it's a one day process or two days then we can still leave on Wednesday so it depends on the visa so we're just waiting...because we've got all the support letters from NRL [in Australia]."

The coaches, captains and referees for the rugby league nines at the Pacific Games in PNG.

Pacific countries previously competed in Nines at the 2015 Pacific Games. Photo: RNZI/Vinnie Wylie

PNG won gold in the inaugural Commonwealth Championship in 2014, which was run as an exhibition event alongside the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

This year's event has been changed from a Under 19 tournament to Under 23s and also features a women's and physical disability competition.

Samoa, Tonga, PNG and Fiji are among eight teams competing in the men's event while Fiji, Samoa and Cook Islands are among the six women's teams.

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